Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, fantasy My rating: 3.5/5 stars
First, I want to make something abundantly clear: this is a tremendously important book. It deals with lots of major issues that the Black community is currently facing, and has been facing for a long time, and it uses a highly unique premise (some very literal Black Girl Magic) to convey those ideas. I feel like I need to stress that part because this was one of those books that I loved in theory, just not in execution. I don’t want this review to be taken as, “This book isn’t important.” I think it is a book that is very, very much worth reading. However, it would be disingenuous for me to rate it higher, because it faltered in its actual writing, on technical elements like worldbuilding and pacing.
Author: Omar Holmon Publication date: May 12, 2020 Genre: poetry My rating: 4/5 stars
In his quick, lively debut collection, poet Omar Holmon delivers a rollercoaster of emotions chronicling everything from the death of a parent to racism to love to the pride in being a nerd. This is a book that will make you laugh, but will also make you think, often in the same poem. It may not be hugely advertised, but this is a solid addition to Button Poetry’s catalog, as well as an excellent testament to the experiences of a Black nerd trying to navigate family and this complicated world we live in.
Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, urban fantasy, contemporary Publisher: Tor Teen
If ever there was a good book to promote now, given the widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, this is it. Written by a Black author, and dealing with topics including systemic racism, social justice, body image, and misogynoir, the relevance of this book to today’s situation cannot be overstated. The characters attend Black Lives Matter protests. They discuss everything from natural hair and gospel music to traffic stops and police brutality. And above all, this book is a celebration of literal Black Girl Magic–this is a story about sirens, and in its world’s mythos, only Black women can be sirens.
Author: Seanan McGuire Series: Wayward Children, #5 Publication date: January 7, 2020 Genre: fantasy, portal fantasy My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Let me start this by saying that Seanan McGuire is an absolute gem. Her writing is always brilliant, and I absolutely adore all the worlds she created in this series, so I of course was looking forward to getting to further explore them in this latest installment. In fact, after Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Jack and Jill quickly became my favorite characters in the series (alongside Kade, but alas, he hasn’t gotten his own book yet). However, this wasn’t a five-star read–honestly, it’s on the lower end of the 4.5-star rating. I guess I just didn’t quite feel the same “spark” with this one that I did with some others from the series. (Was that a pun referencing the excessive lightning in the Moors? Maybe…)
Anyway, given that it is a short book, I don’t quite feel up to a full review, but here is the publisher’s blurb, followed by my thoughts in a quick bulleted list for your enjoyment/reference. Please be aware, there aresome spoilers in here for the earlier books in the series, if you haven’t read them yet–though, of course, no spoilers on this particular installment!
Author: Roshani Chokshi Series: Pandava Quartet, #1 Publication date: March 27, 2018 Genre: middle grade, fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
This was a cute and enjoyable read, for sure, with a delightful voice, a feisty and salty protagonist who was a little too relatable, and so much mythological fun. Obviously the #OwnVoices take on Indian mythology was a strong point in its favor. Seriously, props to Rick Riordan for helping support authors from other cultures in getting their mythologies into stories to be published and loved as much as his own Percy Jackson was. He could have written those books himself, but instead he decided to step away and let #OwnVoices authors take the spotlight. But I digress–let’s start with the publisher’s blurb!
A few weeks ago, I attended the Epic Reads Winter Tour when it stopped at my local indie, Anderson’s Bookshop. The event itself was awesome (see my full write-up of it HERE), but what made it even more awesome was that I bought a couple books–and got all of them signed–and also got a cool free totebag to take home! I finally got around to photographing all those books, so here they are!
As some of you may have noticed, I ended up taking a hiatus (inadvertently, might I add) for most of February and March this year. This was due to a large number of factors, including stress about law school (by which I mean I was spending every free moment refreshing my application status checkers and checking r/lawschooladmissions to see which schools were sending waves of decisions), added responsibilities from my new position as a moderator in the TBR and Beyond Facebook group (big shoutout to everyone there–y’all are wonderful and I love it so much), general coronavirus anxiety (yeah, we’re all in that headspace now), and a family vacation to California (which was super fun until the coronavirus things started majorly blowing up during our last 2-ish days there, and then was a tad more stressful).
But there was one other thing that I think was keeping me from making blog posts, and it wasn’t just being generally busy, because let’s face it–even when I was really stressed and had a lot going on, I still had time to watch TV with my family, idly scroll through social media, and keep reading books. No, the real problem was that I was starting to dread making posts because of the time commitment involved.
Author: Mary Cecilia Jackson Publication date: March 17, 2020 Genre: young adult contemporary My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Huge thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for selecting me to participate in this blog tour! At the end of this review, you’ll find the link to a giveaway for this truly impactful book.
Poignant, painful, but ultimately hopeful, Sparrow provides a harrowing look at one girl’s journey from victim to survivor. This is the sort of book that will stick with you for a while–and, yes, you’ll probably shed some tears.
Earlier this week, the Epic Reads tour for Winter 2020 stopped at my local indie bookstore (shoutout to Anderson’s Bookshop!). Having attended a stop on their tour last spring–and loving it–I naturally had to check this one out as well.
What ensued was a lively and highly informative discussion between three YA authors: Evelyn Skye, Elana K. Arnold, and Mindy McGinnis. All three were insightful and authentic, each one brought a unique personality to the conversation, and all three ended up convincing me to purchase one of their books in the end. (My wallet is crying, but my heart is happy. Expect a book haul post sometime soon!)
I took some hasty and frantic notes throughout the entire thing; I’ve attempted to cobble them together here into a comprehensive description of the event. Here’s what went down: